A reflection on time, aging, memory, and remorse, The Sense of an Ending packs a giant sentimental (but not schmaltzy) punch. Beginning in an English boarding school (I am such a sucker for boarding school stories!), the book follows Tony Webster through school, college, relationships, marriage, work, and middle age. Tony is completely unaware of his part in a tangled relationship between himself, his ex-girlfriend, and his best friend. Decades later, Tony receives a letter from a lawyer indicating that he has inherited his best friend's diary, yet his ex-girlfriend won't give it up. Trying to somehow comprehend the relationships, his part, the results, and the nature of this mess, Tony begins to question not only his own past but his memories of that time as well. The 2011 Man Booker prizewinner, The Sense of an Ending is quiet, clever, and lovely. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The story of a man coming to terms with the mutable past, Julian Barnes's new novel is laced with his trademark precision, dexterity and insight. It is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers.
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they navigated the girl drought of gawky adolescence together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they swore to stay friends forever. Until Adrian's life took a turn into tragedy, and all of them, especially Tony, moved on and did their best to forget.
Now Tony is in middle age. He's had a career and a marriage, a calm divorce. He gets along nicely, he thinks, with his one child, a daughter, and even with his ex-wife. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove. The unexpected bequest conveyed by that letter leads Tony on a dogged search through a past suddenly turned murky. And how do you carry on, contentedly, when events conspire to upset all your vaunted truths?
"Its effect is disturbing -- all the more so for being written with Barnes's habitual lucidity. His reputation will surely be enhanced by this book. Do not be misled by its brevity. Its mystery is as deeply embedded as the most archaic of memories." Anita Brookner
"A highly wrought meditation on ageing, memory and regret." The Guardian
"It's a harsh tale rich in humane resonances." The Sunday Times
About the Author
Julian Barnes was born in Leicester, England on January 19, 1946. He was educated at the City of London School from 1957 to 1964 and at Magdalen College, Oxford, from which he graduated in modern languages (with honors) in 1968. After graduation, he worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary supplement for three years. In 1977, Barnes began working as a reviewer and literary editor for the New Statesmen and the New Review. From 1979 to 1986 he worked as a television critic, first for the New Statesmen and then for the Observer.